In a 2006 cover story, Time magazine asked that question. For most Americans, the answer is straightforward: We decide who gets to stay. But millions of illegal immigrants think they have a "human right" to sneak across the border or overstay their visa in search of a better life.
In separate appearances before the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials this weekend, John McCain and Barack Obama promised advocates for illegal immigrants that mi casa es su casa. Loosely translated: Vote for me and amnesty supporters will be welcomed at the White House.
Though Obama voted for comprehensive immigration reform cosponsored by McCain, he bashed the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for backing away from his own bill:
There is one place where Sen. McCain and I agreed and we used to work together to offer change on immigration and I -- he deserves great credit as a champion of comprehensive reform. I admire him for it. I know that he talked about that when he just spoke before you, but what he didn’t mention is that when he was running for his party’s nomination, he walked away from that commitment. He said that he wouldn’t even support his own legislation if it came up for a vote.
McCain defended his flip-flop:
Many Americans, with good cause, did not believe us when we said we would secure our borders, and so we failed in our efforts. We must prove to them that we can and will secure our borders first, while respecting the dignity and rights of citizens and legal residents of the United States. But we must not make the mistake of thinking that our responsibility to meet this challenge will end with that accomplishment. We have economic and humanitarian responsibilities as well, and they require no less dedication from us in meeting them.
McCain regularly invokes this non-sequitur:
I understand these are God's children.
Of course they are, but there are billions of God’s children worldwide. Does that mean that if, in the words of Oleta Adams they somehow "get here," they should be placed on a path to citizenship? If they are able to "cross the border in a blaze of hope," ICE should not enforce existing laws.
The fact is, illegal immigrants’ only claim on America is that they violated U.S. immigration laws. Such a willful disrespect for the rule of law should not be rewarded with a promise that their interests will be a "top priority" of the new Democratic or Republican administration.